Wednesday, March 11, 2009
"It's been a long time since I hit you with freestyle,
High-tech selections from the rhymes of the Strom files."
(with apologies to Ice-T)
Everyone knew that Philadelphia was going to be a buyer in the craziness surrounding the yearly trade deadline. Everyone was fully aware that the Flyers were hot after stud defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. And as the talented Florida Panther was seen in attendance at a couple of Flyers' games during the stretch run before last Wednesday's deadline, everyone believed the trade to be a done deal, it was just a matter of how.
And everyone was wrong. Because the Flyers got no one.
Well, almost no one. Scottie Upshall was sent to Phoenix for a second-round draft pick and left-winger Daniel Carcillo, the league-leader in penalty minutes. (Have you seen this guy? He looks like a killer.) The only other deal brought defenseman Kyle McLaren from San Jose for a sixth-round pick...until a failed physical nullified the deal.
Carcillo, much to his credit, has actually looked like a hockey player, rather than a fighter on skates. He's also already been in a couple of scraps. So, you gotta love him. And who knows? Maybe this is the Matt Stairs pickup, the under-the-radar pickup who makes one huge play that changes history. I doubt it, but who knows.
So, in the eyes of most hockey analysts, the Flyers were BIG losers at the trade deadline. And maybe they're right.
But maybe they're not.
At the end of the day, the Flyers would have had to give up entirely too much to lure Bouwmeester away from Florida. The Panthers are playing good hockey, for the moment holding the 7th-seed in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. (Though the question must be asked: if a hockey team plays well in Miami, does it make a sound?) And even with Bouwmeester's expiring contract, Florida was now willing to give up its best chance at making the playoffs in a long time. Which meant that the offer would have to have been pretty sweet. Names being tossed around were Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle, and Joffrey Lupul. Coburn is already pretty darn good, and getting better every night. (By the way, everyone in the hockey world continues to talk about the sending of Alexei Zhitnik to Atlanta for Coburn as the steal of the last few years.) Carle continues to impress, and Lupul scored his 19th and 20th goals of the season Saturday against Nashville. So now the Flyers have six 20-goal scorers. Know who else does? That's right. No one.
GM Paul Holmgren looked at his team and decided he likes it just the way it is. He didn't want to mortgage part of the future of this squad to get a rental. As I've said many times before, a) I trust Holmgren, and 2) I really like this team. I don't know if they're quite good enough to win it all this year; I still think they're missing a stand-up shutdown defender. But the East is wide open, and all the more so as Boston has been playing terrible hockey. And as we know, all you've gotta do is make the tournament.
But that's where the nerves come in. We've got a couple of games in hand over almost everyone in the conference, including three over the Capitals, just ahead of us in the 3-spot. If we hold serve, we'll make the playoffs. If we get hot and can overtake the Devils, we can take 3rd or even 2nd seed. But if we go cold, we may not make it at all. That's how tight it is.
But I like what I see.
Other Musings: Someone needs to explain to me what the Eagles plan to do with 700 draft picks and some $30 million. I'm hoping there's a master plan that somehow brings Anquan Boldin to us. But that would make sense. And we all know how Andy Reid works...
The phrase "mano y mano" should be permanently stricken from our lexicon. It does not mean "man to man." It never has. It never will. It means "hand and hand." Let it go.
ESPN's Mount Rushmore of sports was light years dumber than having a tournament to determine Who's Now. And that was dumb. (Remember when Sportscenter was about real news and highlights instead of But at least I got to hear Rick Reilly use the word "ridonculous."
True story: My good friend Jonah, an employee of ESPN, took me to the ESPN campus. I got to meet Linda Cohn, the Schwab (sp?) and some others. But the biggest thrill was when Jonah and I were walking down a hall, and he says, "Hello Mr. Allen." He turns to me and says, "That's Eric Allen." The words "starstruck" and "speechless" don't even begin to describe. I pulled it together and we had an awesome conversation about watching that incredible '91 Eagles D. He told us that Buddy Ryan was a little crazy, but a good coach. Jonah asked him about Rich Kotite, and Eric Allen was like, "Kotite...not so much." Classic.
Lastly, my new favorite commercial is funny in its own right, and all the cooler cause it's one of our boys. If you haven't seen the Jimmy Rollins commercial for Dick's, it's fantastic. The last one is the best.